Opinion | Changing Workplace and Workday Norms

To the Editor:

Re “Retire the 9-to-5 Workday,” by Emily Laber-Warren (Opinion guest essay, Sunday Review, March 20):

While there are many benefits to allowing workers to determine their own work schedule, I have two concerns about a widespread adoption of self-scheduling.

By erasing the demarcation between work time and leisure time, there is a risk that employers will consider all hours of the day work time. The use of technology to keep us connected has already done much to erode the division between professional and personal. A fuzzy schedule could make it much worse if the result is workers who are always working.

There is also the risk of a new form of class division. Would those who write their own schedule accept the same from the cooks, restaurant servers, parcel delivery drivers, teachers, retailers and repair technicians who provide services for them?

Some jobs need to happen during certain hours, and workers will need to work schedules that do not match their biological rhythms or allow them “flextime.” When some are allowed to live in utopia, how do you compensate those who are not?

Wayne Smith
Grand Junction, Colo.

To the Editor:

Re “Who Is the Office For?” (Sunday Business, March 13):

Emma Goldberg highlights consequential changes in the workplace, induced by the pandemic but long in coming.

Remote work has become common practice for a growing proportion of Americans. Individuals are no longer hostage to fixed, daily 9-to-5 routines controlled by employers, but are empowered to negotiate work lives as partners in professional relationships, not as members of an underclass in a two-tier economic system.

Personal productivity is rewarded more than office socialization, especially for women who are relieved of pressures to “fit in” to the male-woven cultural fabric of the traditional office, and are freed to confine their interactions to work and their downtime to themselves and their families.

Tradition-bound institutions are proving that decisive leadership can change entrenched workplace behaviors, loosening organizational chains that bind people to their desks, and burden them with work rules and practices they may abhor.

Sandy Apgar
The writer, a former assistant secretary of the Army for installations and environment, is a management counselor specializing in remote work, housing and real estate.

To the Editor:

Re “The Evolution of an Enigma” (front page, March 27):

Roger Cohen points out in his analysis of Vladimir Putin’s leadership in Russia that among the reasons that Mr. Putin decided to invade Ukraine was that he perceived Europe, the U.S. and NATO to be weak and divided, as shown by the modest sanctions imposed on his country in the face of its earlier incursions into Georgia and Ukraine.

But there may be another reason that Mr. Putin struck Ukraine now — he feared he might not have many more years to live. He will turn 70 in October, and over the past two years he has isolated himself against Covid, using a comically long table for meetings for fear of getting the disease. Presumably he is also aware that he has already exceeded the male life expectancy in Russia (68 as of 2019).

In other words, I think Mr. Putin wanted the glory of conquering Ukraine — and emerging, in his view, as another Peter the Great or Stalin — but it had to happen before he died.

Stephen Schlesinger
New York
The writer is a fellow at the Century Foundation and former director of the World Policy Institute at the New School.

To the Editor:

Re “N.F.L.’s Buffalo Bills Close Deal for Taxpayer-Funded Stadium Costing $1.4 Billion” (news article, March 29):

Happy to hear that Highmark Stadium, nearly 50 years old and one of the oldest pro football stadiums in use in the nation, has met the New York State criteria for public funding. Now can we get started on repairing or replacing those other less vital structures like schools, bridges and hospitals?

Howie Weinick
Woodmere, N.Y.

To the Editor:

One of the greatest plays in pro football is coming to Buffalo. Call it the Shotgun Wedding Play or the Taxpayer Sneak.

It’s usually termed a “win win” by politicians — jobs and revenue and so forth — but somehow the private investors end up with the lion’s share of profit. There are so many other priorities for tax revenue in these difficult times that I can’t believe that this is even being considered.

Michael Leslie
Boca Grande, Fla.

To the Editor:

Re “How Manchin Aided Coal Industry, and Earned Himself Millions” (front page, March 28):

The state of West Virginia has ranked near the bottom of almost every quality-of-life indicator for as long as I can remember. At 75, that’s a long time.

Senator Joe Manchin has been in “public service” in West Virginia for four decades. I have been waiting for much of that time for someone in the media to ask Mr. Manchin exactly what it is that he has done to improve the quality of life for his fellow West Virginians.

The evidence seems to speak for itself. Nothing.

Sara R. Nichols
Los Angeles

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